What is this?
This is meant to be documentation on me as an engineering leader and as a person. It is still work in progress and subject to change if I change my mind.
Two reasons for this to exist
- The creation helps me to identify and refine my thoughts and values. When you write something about yourself, you also learn about yourself.
- Hopefully this will help you to understand me better and help us working together successfully.
Important: This is NOT meant as a replacement for actually getting to know each other. I am always open for a coffee (or after-work beer) together.
I am living in Berlin, Germany for more than 16 years already but I am originally from Hannover. I am maried and the father of two wonderful kids. In my spare time enjoy being with the family 👨👩👧👦, I still enjoy coding 🧑🏽💻, I like to play darts 🎯, and to watch soccer ⚽️ and american football 🏈.
I am an engineering manager with a background in software development. I started as an engineer, developed ideas and products, and grew teams from scratch to build even more as a team. I look after people, create new opportunities for them, and mentor and coach them to become better every day. I like to turn data into information and create products out of ideas. We need to try out stuff and risk it to become successful.
Personal principles and values
In my profession as an engineering manager I want to become better every day. This is possible in an agile world where we are able to adapt and change. We conduct retrospectives to see if the changes being made were right or need to be adapted again.
Try hard and fail fast. We all can learn from errors and should be able to celebrate success and failures. Open and direct communication is an important part of a healthy organization.
We need critical thinking. Nothing is sacred and we do not do anything “because we have always done it that way”. There must always be a "why" we do things.
We need to set ourselves SMART goals and do self reflection as this is an important part of growth.
In a changing world we need to learn, adapt, and gain new skills continuously to be successful in our business. It is important to change and do retrospectives to evaluate the benefits.
You are very good at your job. You would not be here if you were not. I may ask a lot of questions but this is to have a better understanding of what you are doing.
I am not good at your job. You know best. I will work to provide necessary context and ask questions to help you vet your ideas but I will not override you.
You’ll let me know if you cannot do your job or have concerns. One of my main responsibilities is ensuring that you are set up for success. We can debate with each others to find a win-win for all of us.
As a team we want to perform at our best and still have fun together and be happy. I am part of the team and do mentoring and coaching at the same time. I am happy to answer questions, even if I do not know the answers right away. We take control of and responsibility for what we do. We always ask "why" and learn continuously. We help each other and go the extra mile where needed.
How can I help you?
Provide context. Most of my day is spent collecting, filtering and sharing context/information from across other teams and the organization. I will try to push information to you as much as I can but feel free to ask about anything else.
Provide an outside(ish) perspective. I won’t be working on your project day to day but will be close enough to have informed thoughts. If you need a hint, a new idea or just a discussion on how to tackle things, then please let me know and involve me.
Firefight and escalate. Let me know if things are not the way they should be. I back you up and we can find a way together. I can escalate further and we can ask for more help together.
Define the next steps and create a vision. Are you looking for a vision or want to define your next steps in a project or in your career? Then talk to me and we will determine what is needed.
Other. Please let me know how else I can help.
How can you help me?
Do amazing work. This is the expectation. Let me know if there is something preventing you from accomplishing this.
Disagree with me. The best solutions comes from a healthy level of debate. We need to be able to separate our ideas from our egos. I will challenge your ideas with the goal of coming to the best possible solution, I hope you will challenge mine.
Tell me when I screw up. This is very important. I screw up and sometimes don’t notice. I need to know or I will likely do it again.
Communicate. One of my jobs is to provide context. Are you missing some? Let me know and I will fill you in or go find out.
Your career is yours. You know best how you’d like to grow and in what areas. I can provide feedback and an outside perspective.
I will do my best to provide growth and learning opportunities, it will be up to you to seize them. Let’s work together on this.
At the end of the day, it is your career. You set your goals. You set your priorities. Let me know how I can help you achieve them.
1:1s are an important element of the relationship between manager and reports. As every person is an individual, also the 1:1 meetings are individual.
1:1s are very important to me because they are dedicated space for you to talk about anything and everything you want. They are meetings primarily for you, and only secondarily for me. It’s not a status meeting, unless you want to talk about status. 1:1s are flexible — they can shift and change to fit around our shifting schedules. Don’t save urgent matters for a 1:1!
Usually the meetings are about 25 min and will take place at least once per month. Coffee together, private meeting room, head out for a walk, let me know what works best. We can adjust at any time depending on the topics you have. Feel free to come with a topic you would like to discuss. If possible, let me know about the topic so that I can also prepare myself.
Feedback – giving and receiving
Feedback is critical to both of our successes. I like it blunt and to the point.
I do not believe in collecting feedback and then scheduling a time to provide it all at once. If you or me have feedback to give we should work to provide it as soon as possible. Feedback should be given in a timely manner and it must be given with context.
If you would like specific feedback on something – let me know! I am happy to provide an outside perspective. Just ask me.
What should we do with feedback?
Consider it. Acting on it is not required. Most of it will be good, some of it won’t be. Like everything else, please think about each piece critically and decide whether to act on it or not. To be honest, I dislike receiving bad feedback, but in most cases you are right and I did something not so well. I may need some time to think about, but please tell me what your concerns are.
Heard a rumour? Need clarification on something? Blocked? I would love to hear as soon as possible. Come by my desk, stop me in the hall, shoot me a message, we do not need to wait for our next scheduled meeting.
##How to interpret my calendar Sometimes my calendar can be packed. But that should not stop you to talk to me. Very few things are more important than talking to you if you want to talk to me. If you need to talk, let’s talk.
Feel free to put something in my calendar, don’t feel like you need to ask first. If the there is not enough time or I am having a conflict, then I will let you know and arrange another point in time as quickly as possible.
Feel free to shot me a message (there are always various opportunities, like messengers or email) and I will come back to you asap. Sometimes you may even receive an immediate call in return 😉.
I prefer to have meetings which last 25 minutes instead of 30 and also 50 minutes instead of 1 hour. Having some time to prepare for the next meeting will help us to be ready and fresh for the next one.
This document is work-in-progress. It may change over time, especially when I change. For this, I’d love your feedback.
- Did you find the time you spent reading this valuable?
- Is something critical missing or not correct from your point of view?
If you see me not living up to anything included – please, let me know. It is possible that I have changed my mind (👍). More likely I am dropping the ball (👎). Either way I would like to know.
At the very end I would like to recommend some sources of tech and managment news and blogs which I find pretty interesting:
- TLDR tech newsletter (see https://tldr.tech)
- Software lead weekly (see https://softwareleadweekly.com)
- Management 3.0 (see https://management30.com)
- The manager readme (see https://managerreadme.com)